The Invisible Woman

Rated 4.0

Romances involving legendary writers and the doomed loves that inspired their work have become a fecund subgenre of the “costume drama” ever since Shakespeare in Love, but Ralph Fiennes'The Invisible Woman is the most complex and least gimmicky since Jane Campion's 2009 film Bright Star, about the poet John Keats' relationship with Fanny Brawne Fiennes also stars, giving his un-fussiest performance in years as Charles Dickens, seen here at the height of his literary and theatrical fame in Victorian-era London. The film is framed by the haunted remembrances of Nelly (Felicity Jones, understated but burning), an untalented actress from a family of female performers who became Dickens' lover. Cinematographer Rob Hardy shoots The Invisible Woman as though it were illuminated by candles, gas lamps and window lights. Those dark, shadowy tones also suit the ambivalent mood of The Invisible Woman, a film about image maintenance and sexual negotiation in which no one emerges as villainous.